Home | En Español | Contact Us | A to Z 

Remarks by HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo
Press Conference
Teachers Next Door Program

Monday, March 13, 2000

SECRETARY CUOMO: Thank you very much. Good afternoon.

AUDIENCE: Good afternoon, Secretary Cuomo.

SECRETARY CUOMO: Oh, that has a nice ring, let me do that again, I like it so much, good afternoon.

AUDIENCE: Good afternoon, Secretary Cuomo.

SECRETARY CUOMO: Oh boy, what a feeling. I guess you guys want us to get this over very fast so you can all get back to class, (LAUGH), no, some things never change.

First to Principal Baccus, thank you such much for opening up the school today. This is, Burrville Elementary is a phenomenal school and Principal Baccus was recognized as a Principal of the Year, as well she should be. So congratulations, Principal. (APPLAUSE).

It's a pleasure to be with Alexander Chambers, who you'll hear from shortly. Commissioner Bill Apgar is here, the Commissioner of the FHA, the Federal Housing Administration, which is actually going to run this program. Mr. Bob Chase, who is President of the NEA, National Education Association, and Sandy Feldman - who you know as the President of the AFT, the American Federation of Teachers, but I know from the old days back in New York. She is truly an inspiration of progressive leadership, and it's a pleasure to be with her.

Education and the education system in this country is obviously important as an institution, but to me it almost goes beyond that. What the education system has always said, is that the concept of America, the concept of this democracy, can actually work. The concept of the country was, you come here from anywhere and you can be anything you want to be, and we will work with you to do that, and we will help you improve yourself.

That's manifested in the education system. It was the great equalizer. You could be rich, you could be poor, you could come from a good neighborhood or a bad neighborhood, but it didn't matter, you went to a public education system and you could be the President of the United States. You could be the head of the military, you could be a governor, you could be whatever you wanted to be on the strength of the public education system. And that's what we have to preserve, and that's what we have to strengthen.

Now the private education system has the advantage of resources, and they can pay for facilities, and teachers, etc. but it's harder on the public side. President Clinton has done many, many things to make the public education system work better. I'm proud of what he's done to secure 100,000 new teachers, to increase Title I, that now serves 11 million low income students. Double Federal funding for after-school programs, largest Head Start expansion in history. Universal after-school for students, school construction, and a teacher quality plan $1 billion dollars to recruit, train, and reward good teachers.

So the Federal Government, (Applause), the Federal Government has done plenty but there is also more to do. And sometimes the best thing Government can do is exercise a little common sense.

I remember when I was a young fellow, not much older than some of the students here today. I was driving in a car with my grandfather in the city of New York on something called the Cross Bronx Expressway. The Cross Bronx Expressway went across the Bronx, hence the name. And on the side of the Bronx at that time, on the side of highway were all these abandoned homes. And high unemployment, and a lot of young people who were obviously just hanging around on the corner.

And my grandfather use to get, use to get very indignant and he would say, I don't understand why the Government doesn't have the young people work to fix the homes, teach them a skill and you would wind up getting more housing. And he couldn't understand why Government didn't have that common sense approach, but sometimes those are the last things we see in Government. Why don't you just exercise a little common sense, that's what we're doing here today.

HUD has homes that we take back in foreclosure, that we're trying to resell, we're trying to strengthen neighborhoods, and teachers need more financial incentive to teach. They are not paid, in my opinion, what they should be paid. Well, how do we solve both, how do we, how do we use the HUD homes to help the teachers - that's the Teacher Next Door Program.

We will take HUD homes, sell them at a 50 percent discount to teachers. Currently there are 4,400 homes that are elementary, 363 right here in the Washington Metropolitan area. Over the course of a year, 10,000 homes. Average starting salary for teachers is 25,000 dollars. The average home price is 133,000 dollars. So you can't even qualify for a mortgage as a start-up teacher, this program can actually make homeownership affordable to teachers.

We think it's a win, win, win, a teacher gets a home, a teacher gets a financial incentive, HUD sells the house quickly, and the community gets a solid, good, strong neighbor. It is what Government does when it works at its best.

And it's my pleasure to join all of you in announcing this today. Especially our friends from the Teacher Unions and it's my pleasure to now introduce Mr. Alexander Chambers, who is a teacher who is buying a HUD home. Thank you.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

FOIA Privacy Web Policies and Important Links [logo: Fair Housing and 

Equal Opportunity]
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
Telephone: (202) 708-1112 TTY: (202) 708-1455